Eagle Rock Entertainment To Release Another Classic Lynyrd Skynyrd Concert This Fall

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Earlier this summer Eagle Rock Entertainment unearthed a couple of Lynyrd Synyrd’s classic live performances for fans for the band’s new live archived recording Sweet Home Alabama. That recording contained the band’s 1997 performance at the famed Rockpalast Festival as well as a handful of songs from its 1974 performance at the festival. The double-disc CD recording was a companion to the concert’s 2008 DVD release. Now officials with the leader in live recordings have announced that the label will release yet another classic Lynyrd Skynyrd concert this fall in the form of Pronounced Leh-nerd Skin nerd & Second Helping Live From Jacksonville at the Florida Theatre.

Pronounced Leh-nerd Skin nerd & Second Helping Live From Jacksonville at the Florida Theatre will be released nationwide on Friday, October 23rd. It will be available on DVD, Blu-ray, and digital formats. Wal-Mart will also carry an exclusive DVD + 2CD combo pack presentation of the concert. The concert presented in this presentation was recorded earlier this year. It marked the first time ever that the band in any of its incarnations had ever performed its first two albums live in their entirety. It was so popular that it spanned two nights in the band’s home town of Jacksonville, Florida. Audiences can check out the band’s performance of ‘Gimme Three Steps’ from the concert online now via YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OcDT-0XkUCc&feature=youtu.be.

Lynyrd Skynyrd is currently making its way across America, performing for audiences around the country. Its next scheduled live date is Friday, September 4th in Alton, Illinois. The band’s current tour schedule is listed below.

Catch LYNYRD SKYNYRD on tour this fall:

September 3 – St. Paul, MN – Minnesota State Fair

September 4 – Alton, IL – Liberty Bank Amphitheater

September 5 – New Lenox, IL – Village Of New Lenox

September 6 – Wauseon, OH – Fulton County Fair

September 11 and 12– Lincoln City, OR – Chinook Winds Casino

September 15 – Saratoga, CA – The Mountain Winery

September 17 – Jackson, CA – Jackson Rancheria Casino & Hotel

September 18 – Pomona, CA – La County Fairgrounds

September 19 – Tucson, AZ – Anselmo Valencia Amphitheater

September 20 – Scottsdale, AZ – Talking Stick Resort & Casino

September 25 – Lewisville, TX – 2015 Western Days

September 26 – Houston, TX – Sam Houston Race Park

October 1 – Seviersville, TN – Smokes Stadium

October 2 – Nashville, TN – Ascend Amphitheater

October 3 – Muncie, IN – Emens Auditorium

October 4 – Louisville, KY – Louder Than Life Music Festival

November 7 – Montgomery, AL – Alabama National Fair

December 5 – Mescalero, NM – Inn Of The Mountain Gods Casino

More information on this and other titles from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online now at:

Website: http://www.eagle-rock.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/EagleRockEnt

Twitter: http://twitter.com/EagleRockNews

More information on Lynyrd Skynyrd’s current tour is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Website: http://www.lynyrdskynyrd.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/LynyrdSkynyrd

Twitter: http://twitter.com/skynyrd

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The End Is Coming…For Black Sabbath

Courtesy:  Republic Records/Live Nation

Courtesy: Republic Records/Live Nation

The end is near. No, not armageddon. Legendary hard rock act Black Sabbath made the announcement today that Black Sabbath will embark on its farewell tour next year.
Black Sabbath–Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler, and Tony Iommi–announced today that it will hit the road next January for its final tour. Audiences can see the announcement for themselves online now via Youtube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FYCvRV5ME3w&feature=youtu.be.

Courtesy:  Republic Records/Live Nation

Courtesy: Republic Records/Live Nation

The band’s current schedule sees it opening its tour on January 20th in Omaha, Nebraska and running through February 25th at New York’s famed Madison Square Gardens. From there the band will take some time off to recharge before hitting the road again down under beginning April 15th in Perth, Australia. The band’s current slate of dates is listed below. It is only the current schedule. More dates will be announced next month.

Photo Credit: Mark Weiss

Photo Credit: Mark Weiss

North American Tour Dates
1/20 Omaha, NE CenturyLink Center
1/22 Chicago, IL United Center
1/25 Minneapolis, MN Target Center
1/28 Saskatoon, SK Sasktel Centre
1/30 Edmonton, AB Rexall Centre
2/1 Calgary, ON Scotiabank Saddledome
2/3 Vancouver, BC Rogers Arena
2/6 Tacoma, WA Tacoma Dome
2/9 San Jose, CA SAP Center
2/11 Los Angeles, CA The Forum
2/13 Las Vegas, NV Mandalay Bay Events Center
2/15 Denver, CO Pepsi Center
2/17 Kansas City, MO Sprint Center
2/19 Detroit, MI The Palace of Auburn Hills
2/21 Hamilton, ON FirstOntario Centre
2/23 Montreal, QB Bell Centre
2/25 New York City, NY Madison Square Garden
Australia/New Zealand Tour Dates

4/15
Perth
Perth Arena
4/17
Adelaide
Entertainment Centre
4/19
Melbourne
Rod Laver Arena
4/23
Sydney
Allphones Arena
4/25
Brisbane
Entertainment Centre
4/28
Auckland
Vector Arena
4/30
Dunedin
Forsyth Barr Stadium

Fans can get information on tickets, VIP packages, and more for the North American leg of the upcoming tour online now via Live Nation’s official website at http://www.Livenation.com. More information on Black Sabbath’s tour is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Website: http://www.blacksabbath.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/BlackSabbath

Twitter: http://twitter.com/blacksabbath

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Screaming At Demons, Homeless Rock Stars Team Up To Tackle Homelessness In America

Photo Credit: Nigel Skeet

Photo Credit: Nigel Skeet

A group of rockers is helping to raise awareness about homelessness in America thanks to a partnership with a well-known national organization.

Screaming at Demons—Shimon Moore (former Sick Puppies front man), Chris Clemence (bassist–Rap Scallions) and guitarist Russell Ali—has partnered with photographer and Homeless Rock Stars founder Nigle Skeet to craft a music video aimed at raising awareness about both Homeless Rock Stars and its mission, as well as America’s homelessness epidemic in whole. Audiences can get a taste of the song right online right now via a little teaser that the band has posted to YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FyawY0s_nsE&feature=youtu.be. The song will debut in full along with its video on October 6th, 2015.

KRC-TV reporter Evan Schreiber recently presented a story on the partnership between Screaming at Demons and Homeless Rock Stars. Schreiber’s story offers even more information on the partnership between Screaming at Demons and Homeless Rock Stars, the video for Screaming at Demons’ new song, and more. Audiences can check out that story online now at http://m.krcrtv.com/music-video-to-feature-local-homeless-rock-stars/34837862.

More information on Homeless Rock Stars is available online now at:

 

Website: http://homelessrockstars.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/homelessrockstars

 

More information on Screaming at Demons is available online now along with the band’s latest news at:

 

Website: http://screamingatdemons.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/screamingatdemons

 

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Black Stone Cherry Teaming With Eagle Rock Entertainment For New Live Recording

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

The annual summer concert season is officially winding down for another year. But don’t tell the people at Eagle Rock Entertainment. That’s because the leader in live recordings still have quite a few new recordings on the way for fans as the temperatures start to turn with the leaves including a brand new live recording from Roadrunner Records’ own Black Stone Cherry titled Thank You: Livin’ Live, Birmingham, UK October 30, 2014.

Eagle Rock Entertainment will release Thank You: Livin’ Live, Birmingham, UK October 30, 2014 a year to the day after the band’s performance sold-out performance at the Birmingham LG Arena. It will be available on DVD + CD combo pack, Blu-ray + CD combo pack, and digital audio and digital video separate from one another. There are also bundle packs that include T-Shirt, hat and exclusive fan poster that can be ordered online now at http://www.myplaydirect.com/black-stone-cherry. The performance, which features twenty-one hit songs from across all four of the band’s current studio recordings, runs a total of two hours. It includes hits such as: ‘Rain Wizard,’ ‘Blind Man,’ ‘Like I Roll,’ ‘Blame it on the Boom Boom’ and a number of others. The complete track listing for the recording is listed below.

Thank You: Livin’ Live, Birmingham, UK October 30, 2014 Track Listing

  1. Rain Wizard
  2. Blind Man
  3. Me & Mary Jane
  4. In My Blood
  5. Holding On…To Letting Go
  6. Maybe Someday
  7. Such A Shame
  8. Things My Father Said
  9. Fiest Del Fuego
  10. Sunshine of Your Love
  11. Like I Roll
  12. Bad Luck and Hard Love
  13. *drum solo*
  14. Hollywood in Kentucky
  15. Hell and Highwater
  16. Soul Creek
  17. White Trash Millionaire
  18. Blame it on The Boom Boom
  19. Layla
  20. Peace is Free
  21. Lonely Train (Can’t Judge a Book)

Audiences can check out the band’s performance of ‘White Trash Millionaire’ from the recording online right now via YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-Yth-dPd-A&feature=youtu.be.

Black Stone Cherry is currently touring in support of its most recent album, 2014’s Magic Mountain. It is also working on material for its fifth full-length studio release, which is expected to be released in early 2016. There are also plans for the band to return to the UK in early 2016 to headline the nation’s inaugural Carnival of Madness tour. More information on this is available online along with all of the band’s latest news and tour updates at:

Website: http://www.blackstonecherry.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/blackstonecherry

Twitter: http://twitter.com/BlkStoneCherry

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Stiller’s Latest Indie Outing Is One Of This Year’s Best New Independent Movies

While Were Young BD Box ArtBen Stiller is one of the most accomplished actors in Hollywood’s modern history. Having starred in countless movies and TV series, and worked behind the lens in just as many projects with plenty more in the works. One of those countless projects, While We’re Young was released direct to DVD and Blu-ray + Digital HD combo pack earlier this summer. The movie, which also co-stars Naomi Watts (King Kong, Mullholland Drive, The Ring), Amanda Seyfried (Les Miserables, Mama Mia, Dear John) and Adam Driver (Inside Llewyn Davis, This is Where I Leave You, What If), is not Stiller’s first jaunt into the indie movie world. In 2010, Stiller starred in the largely forgettable indie flick Greenberg. That movie was forgettable for good reason. While We’re Young however, proves to be more worth viewers’ time than Greenberg. It should be noted that while it is more worth viewers’ time than the prior movie, it is still very much an acquired taste. Though, that is the case with most Noah Baumbach movies. Now having noted that, While We’re Young is an interesting new entry for Stiller and the people at Lionsgate that is worth at least one watch. The main reason for that is its script, crafted by Baumbach. The script follows a couple played by Stiller and Watts that upon meeting a young twenty-something couple begins ruminating on years lost and in turn starts trying to reclaim and relive those years. Yes it’s an oft-used story element. But Baumbach takes an approach in his script that gives the story a new identity in the case of this movie. The additional commentary on the connection between technology and culture that is intertwined into the script is another reason that viewers will enjoy this movie. It is neither preachy nor unnecessarily comic. The bonus material included with the movie rounds out the reasons that While We’re Young proves worth the watch. It is made up mostly of interviews with Baumbach and the movie’s cast. It is one of those rare cases in which the standard bonus addition actually proves to actually be a bonus. And together with the aforementioned elements, all three show together why While We’re Young is one of the best of this year’s new independent movies.

While We’re Young is one of this year’s best new independent movies. It is a movie that stands out both among the endless sea of prequels, sequels, and remakes filling theaters and its fellow independent counterparts alike. It shows this mainly through its script. The script, crafted by writer/director Noah Baumbach, centers on a married couple played by veteran actor and actress Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts. Josh (Stiller) and Cornelia (Watts) are married and both in their forties. After a chance meeting with the much younger Jamie (Driver) and Darby (Seyfried), Josh and Cornelia start ruminating on lost years and lost chances. The resultant effect leads to plenty of laughs and even some moments of deep introspection. It is that balance of humor and contemplation that sets Baumbach’s script apart from every one of the previous instances in which this oft used plot has appeared. Rather than being the typical shmaltzy, slapstick story about people trying to reclaim their youth (E.g. Grown Ups, Grown Ups 2), it offers a solid balance of both humor and depth that few if any other stories of its kind present. That mix of humor and depth is exhibited especially through the blatant cultural differences (of sorts) between the two couples. There’s a lot of truth to the behaviors presented by both pairs. There’s also just enough humor shared between the couples to keep viewers entertained and engaged from beginning to end thus showing again exactly why Baumbach’s script in itself makes While We’re Young worth at least one watch.

The central story presented in Baumbach’s script presents a strong reason why the movie’s script in whole makes this movie worth at least once watch. It is just one reason that this surprisingly interesting independent movie is worth at least that one watch. Along with its central story, there is also an intended commentary on the connection between technology and culture tied into the central story that will have viewers laughing and thinking just as much as the movie’s main story. The commentary regarding the acceptance of technology’s overly intrusive nature (I.E. cell phones being used for everything all the time) is just once example of how the commentary tied into the story helps to make the story all the more enjoyable. There is also a commentary centered on one generation trying to keep up with technology while the other (today’s younger generation) is bringing back everything that was once cool years ago and calling it cool by their own self-serving judgement. It really serves as another example of art clearly imitating real life thus showing yet again why the commentaries included in the movie’s script make the movie all the more entertaining for its target audiences. They are just a couple of the commentaries that are tied in to the script, too. Audiences will see for themselves that there are even more commentaries when they see the movie for themselves. Once again, here is reason that While We’re Young stands out both among the year’s new releases overall and the year’s new independent releases.

Both the central story presented in Baumbach’s script for While We’re Young and the commentaries that accompany the movie’s main story present plenty of reason for viewers to watch this movie at least once. Both elements are of equal importance to the movie’s success and enjoyment. However, they are only a portion of what makes the movie worth the watch. The bonus material included with the movie make its overall presentation all the more worth the watch. The bonus material in question here is largely composed of interviews with Baumbach as well as the movie’s cast. This is a pretty standard bonus included in most movies’ home releases. The difference between these interviews and those included in so many other movies is that the interviews included with this movie actually present a certain value believe it or not. Baumbach and company actually offer some valuable insight into the movie, its script, commentaries and more. It’s quite the change of pace from those other, lesser interviews that try to pass themselves off as “bonuses” with other movies. In the case of this movie, they are in fact bonuses; bonuses that every viewer will find quite insightful. The insight offered by the bonus interviews along with the script’s main story and its companion commentaries make While We’re Young a movie that in whole while not for everyone is still one of the best of this year’s new independent film field and a movie worth at least one watch.

While We’re Young may not have gotten the coverage from media outlets as the major motion pictures released this summer by Hollywood’s “Power Five Studios.” But in comparison to those largely unoriginal, uncreative, prequels, sequels, and remakes, it holds its own quite well. It even holds its own quite well among its fellow independent counterparts. That is thanks to the movie’s script, which includes a new take on a classic story line and some equally entertaining yet in-depth commentaries that will have viewers talking and laughing long after the movie ends. The bonus interviews included with the movie make the overall viewing experience of this movie even richer for fans. All three elements combined, they prove While We’re Young to be one of this year’s best new independent movies and potentially even one of the year’s best overall new movies. It is available now in stores on DVD + Digital and Blu-ray + Digital HD combo pack.

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PBS Kids’ New Super Why Collection Is Another Magical Must Have For Teachers, Parents, And Children

Courtesy: PBS Distribution/PBS Kids/PBS

Courtesy: PBS Distribution/PBS Kids/PBS

Earlier this August PBS Kids and PBS Distribution released its latest collection of episodes from its hit vocabulary-building series Super Why: Cinderella and Other Fairytale Adventures. Just the latest in an expansive series of releases, this new collection is one more magical (terrible pun fully intended) collection for the whole family. The main reason that it is such an enjoyable collection of episodes is the writing within each of its five episodes. The episodes, on the surface, take Whyatt and the rest of the Super Readers on five more wonderful stories into the world of books in order to solve problems within the books and in turn problems in their own lives. On another level, the work of the episodes’ writers pays off as it teaches some more subtle lessons along the way that tie in to the episodes. Those more subtle lessons could easily be used as starting points for discussions between children and grown-ups on some very real and very important issues. That is another reason that this latest collection of Super Why episodes proves to be yet another enjoyable collection for the whole family. It will be discussed at more length later. Staying on the topic of lessons being taught, Super Why: Cinderella and Other Fairytale Adventures also comes with some starting points for equally important and invaluable lessons included inside the DVD’s case that are equally valuable in the classroom and the living room. All three elements together make Super Why: Cinderella and Other Fairytale Adventures yet another must have for every educator, parent, and child.

Super Why: Cinderella and Other Fairytale Adventures is hardly the first collection of episodes to be released from PBS Kids’ hit vocab building series. That aside it still is no less enjoyable for audiences. As a matter of fact, considering its title and collection of episodes, it could be said that it is in fact quite the magical collection of episodes. The main reason for that is the work of the series’ writers in crafting each of the collection’s episodes. That is exemplified through the fun adaptations of the five classic fairtytales presented in the collection. Snow White is presented as are Cinderella, The Boy Who Cried Wolf and The Prince and the Pauper and even Cinderella as told from the Prince’s vantage point. While the writers don’t necessarily stick completely to the original stories–which is the norm with any Super Why episode–but the presented adventures do stick just closely enough to the source material to make the Super Readers’ adventures enjoyable. On another level, they make the adventures enjoyable that they leave young readers wanting to read the original stories from which the adventures were lifted. What’s more, the writers clearly and efficiently manage to tie in the Super Readers’ problems with the stories’ problems. This makes both concepts easily accessible for the show’s young viewers. It is yet another way in which the writing behind each episode proves to be so important to the whole of the presentation that is Super Why: Cinderella and Other Fairytale Adventures. It is just one aspect of the whole that makes the DVD so enjoyable, too. The more subtle lessons that are tied into each of the DVD’s episodes are collectively another important part of the disc’s whole.

The primary lessons that are tied into each of the DVDs episodes in themselves gives this presentation plenty of reason to be watched. However, they make up only one part of what makes this DVD worth the watch. There are some more subtle lessons tied into each episode that makes for even more reason to watch each episode. Now not every lesson might have been intentionally inserted into the episodes. But they are there regardless. One example of those more subtle, secondary lessons comes in “Snow White.” The Super Readers jump into the episode’s title book here and meet its lead character as she encounters the evil queen in her guise of the elderly woman. Those familiar with this story know that the evil queen is in disguise as part of her attempt to kill Snow White. On the surface, this ties directly into the episode’s main topic. On a more subtle level, it could be argued that this episode serves as a starting point for a discussion on the topic of “stranger danger” as it is typically called. That is because Snow White didn’t necessarily know the old woman. She was a stranger. And she didn’t have the best intentions for Snow White. So to that extent it could easily be argued that said topic is there. On another level, the episode’s main topic in which Princess Pea has a stomach ache and has to decide whether or not to take Goldilocks’ offer for some popcorn presents a chance to talk about overeating. This could also lead to a whole other discussion on healthy eating, too. To that extent, it can be said yet again that even if the lessons in question were not intentionally placed in any of the episodes, they are there. And this episode alone is just one way in which that argument can be made. “The Prince and the Pauper” teaches a subtle lesson that the grass isn’t necessarily greener on the other side. This can lead to a discussion on jealousy (wanting what others have and whether or not it’s really worth it). It could even be argued that a discussion centered on appreciating what one has could be started from this episode, too. Yet again, here is another example of how the secondary, more subtle lessons featured in this disc serve to enhance the overall viewing experience of the presentation in whole. It is not the end of the positives boasted by this latest collection of episodes, either. The bonus lesson ideas included inside the DVD’s case round out the presentation, showing in whole why it is in fact yet another must have for any educator, parent, and child.

The lessons–both primary and secondary–that are presented throughout each episode included in PBS Kids’ new Super Why compilation make this disc by themselves a must have for any educator, parent, and child. While both elements prove equally important to the overall viewing experience here, they are not the only reasons that educators, parents, and children alike will enjoy and appreciate this collection. Along with those lessons, there are also some extra ideas for lessons included inside the case itself that are just as valuable in their own right. One of the lessons in question centers on the story of Cinderella. It utilizes the concept of Cinderella having to keep track of time as a starting point for a lesson on telling time. And it’s not just a lecture lesson either. It encourages educators and parents to actually make a clock together and in turn learn about telling time. From The Boy Who Cried Wolf there is a lesson that not only allows children to have a party but learn at the same time by throwing a party that is centered on a specific letter of the alphabet. The catch is that all of the food, decorations, etc. must center around said letter. This has possibilities beyond just learning letters. It could lead to lessons on manners and maybe even more. There is also a vocab building game that uses musical chairs as its base, and even an invaluable lesson about appreciating and celebrating the things that make us different. This lesson brings everything full circle as it is centered on the Super Readers’ second meeting with Cinderella. Not every one of those lessons will reach every young viewer. But it can be guaranteed that every one of the noted bonus lessons will reach at least one specific group of viewers. That being the case, each one of the bonus lessons included inside the DVD’s case prove in full why they are just as important as the lessons presented within the episodes. Together with those episodes, they serve to show completely why Super Why: Cinderella and Other Fairytale Adventures is a definite must have for any educator, parent, and child.

Super Why: Cinderella and Other Fairytale Adventures is not the first collection of Super Why episodes to be released by PBS Kids and PBS Distribution. That aside, it proves in whole thanks to its enjoyable stories and equally invaluable lessons to be yet another magical must have for any educator, parent, and child. It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct online via PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=66322776&cp=&sr=1&kw=super+why&origkw=Super+Why&parentPage=search. More information on this and other Super Why collections is available online now along with all of the latest Super Why news and even Super Why games and activities at:

Website: http://pbskids.org/superwhy

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/superwhy

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Welcome Back, Kotter Season Four Is A Fond Farewell For A Great Series

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

The end of the road is finally here for ABC’s timeless sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter.  Late last month, Shout! Factory released the final season of the classic series on DVD.  And Welcome Back, Kotter: The Complete Fourth Season is quite the interesting way for this one of-a-kind series to go out.  As viewers will note in going through each of the season’s twenty-three total episodes, the writers are to be very highly commended for handling the drastic changes to the series’ landscape.  That is the central aspect of the season’s success.  It will be discussed shortly.  In connection to the work of the writers, the work of the series’ cast is just as important to its whole.  After the near complete departure of one-time star John Travolta and series head Gabriel Kaplan, Robert Hegyes, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, and Ron Palillo carried on quite well alongside Marcia Strassman and John Sylvester White.  Last but hardly least of note is the series’ overall production values.  Audiences will appreciate that once again the show looks and sounds surprisingly good even as more than three decades have passed since the show ended its run on ABC.  All things considered, Welcome Back, Kotter goes out on a high note in its fourth and final season.  The proverbial waters were not easy to tread considering the show’s changes.  But somehow all involved managed to navigate them.  The end result is a collection of episodes that every Kotter fan will want to have in his or her own DVD library even though it really is in its final season Welcome Back, Kotter in name only.

Welcome Back, Kotter is in its final season Welcome Back, Kotter in name only.  That is because in this the series’ final season, Mr. Kotter (Gabe Kaplan) is written almost entirely out of the show after the season’s first three episodes.  After those first three episodes, the only mentions of Mr. Kotter come in the part of his wife (played by Marcia Strassman) mentioning him being at this conference or that–as he is now the school’s Vice Principal–whenever now Principal Woodland is looking for him.  She essentially becomes the Kotter in Welcome Back, Kotter.  All of this aside, Season Four still manages to be just as entertaining as the series’ previous three seasons.  The main reason for that enjoyment is the work of the show’s writers.  The work of the series’ writers in the final season of Welcome Back, Kotter is one of the most important reasons for the show’s success.  With what can only assume was the departure of star Gabe Kaplan from the show and the all but nonexistent John Travolta (Travolta appears in this season only in a handful of episodes), the writers had a lot to handle.  That’s because it forced the writers to either adjust to the changes or completely overhaul the show.  Luckily, they did the prior and did so with the utmost professionalism.  They crafted twenty-three episodes that stylistically were familiar both to the cast and crew, and to viewers.  They also exhibited the writers’ collective ability to show that the series could still float even without two of its main stars.  Sure there were some changes here and there.  But by and large, the emphasis on education, friendship and other serious subjects were just as appreciable as the laughs that were tied into every one of the season’s episodes.  Some of the best examples of that balance and solid writing come in the form of “Washington’s Clone,” “The Gang Show,” and “Once Upon A Ledge.”  The prior of the trio takes a similar tone as that of the season’s two-part premiere in its emphasis on the importance of education.  The difference between the two is that “Washington’s Clone” tackles the subject by having Washington having to address a straight-A student named Arthur who wants to be just like him instead of the student everybody had come to know him to be.  Arthur goes so far as to steal watches from his father’s store in order to try and impress Washington.  What’s really interesting here is that for all of the “coolness” for which he is normally known, Washington is forced to show an unfamiliar, serious side in which he has to play counselor to Arthur in his attempt to get Arthur back on the right track.  It’s a surprising yet welcome change to see from Washington.  “The Gang Show” is more light-hearted but still tackles some serious issues in the process.  That light-hearted approach begins right at the episode’s title, which playfully pokes fun at the one-time hit game show The Gong Show.  Beau and Arnold become judges for the school’s annual talent show in this episode.  Fittingly Epstein and Washington team up for their own act.  This forces Arnold and Beau to balance loyalty and friendship with honesty and honor as judges.  The result is absolutely comical but still presents a good message that even today’s younger viewers will appreciate.  Those same viewers will appreciate the writers’ tackling of teen suicide as new character Mary Johnson threatens suicide because she feels unnoticed and unappreciated by anyone else at school.  Go figure, she would go on to be a key character in the season’s advancement.  These are just a few examples of how the writing that went into Season Four make it work so well even with the seeming departure of Kaplan in front of the camera at least and the near full departure of John Travolta.  Each of the season’s remaining twenty episodes could just as easily be used as examples of the writers’ talents, too.  For instance, the handling of alcohol abuse (and more specifically teen alcohol abuse) in “Come Back, Little Arnold,” the lessons of friendship and truth in media in “The Sweat Smell of Success” and the still hot button topic of sex education in “X-Rated Education.” Whether through these episodes, the ones more directly addressed, or through any of the season’s others, it can be said that the episodes in whole prove clearly the importance of the show’s writing even with the changes that came with the season. They are just part of what makes this season work as well as it does, too. The work of the show’s cast proves just as pivotal to its success and enjoyment.

The work of the writers behind Welcome Back, Kotter shows throughout each of this season’s episodes makes this season just as enjoyable as the series’ previous three seasons. That is the case even despite the changing landscape of the show in its final run. In connection to the work of the show’s writers, the work of the show’s cast is just as pivotal to its continued enjoyment. This is key to note because of the noted changes. Stars Ron Palillo, Robert Hegyes, and Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs were forced into the spotlight after [Gabe] Kaplan was essentially written out along with Travolta’s Vinnie Barberino. The trio handled their new roles with just as much professionalism as the show’s writers. There were plenty of laughs from the trio’s mix of physical comedy and almost Three-Stooges style back and forth throughout each episode. Even when it was time for the trio to step up and be more serious, such as when they get Norman to admit to his trouble with alcohol and when they had to get Arthur back on the right track, they did so with an equal level of expertise. Interestingly enough, Beau (Stephen Shortridge) was rather underutilized after his introduction as the newest member of the Sweathogs. It’s almost as if he was brought in without full forethought. Even considering this, Palillo, Hegyes, and Hilton-Jacobs hold their own and create plenty of laughs and moving moments through this season, showing time and again why their work was so important to the season’s success.

Both the work of the writers behind Welcome Back, Kotter and that of the show’s cast are of equal importance to the enjoyment and overall success of the series’ final season. As important as both elements are to the whole of the recently released box set neither would be worth the mention without mention of the set’s production values. Specifically speaking none of it would be worth mentioning without mention of the footage’s audio and video mix. In regards to its video mix, the footage looks just as impressive as that in the series’ previous standalone season sets. The season has been restored to its original condition. And once again, the grainy look of the footage has been cleaned up without losing that original look that the show presented in its original run. The sound is just as enjoyable. Considering the recording tech available at the time, that says quite a bit. When set alongside the work of the show’s cast and writers, the work of those charged with restoring Season Four’s footage makes this final installment of Welcome Back, Kotter one last must have for Kotter fans and classic TV fans alike.

The fourth and final season of Welcome Back, Kotter is one last must have both for fans of the classic series and for classic television fans alike. That is proven through the work of the series’ writers and cast, and through the work of those charged with restoring the footage for its presentation here. Season Four is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct via Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/tv/comedy/welcome-back-kotter-the-final-season. More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

 

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